Call for papers
The 2011 Nomadikon Conference
Bergen, November 9-11, 2011
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Martin Jay (UC Berkeley)
Wendy Steiner (University of Pennsylvania)
Libby Saxton (University of London)
Images seduce. Images deceive. Images conceal. Images reveal. Images make icons. Images break icons. Images are agents of political struggle. Images are sacred. Images are secular. Images are powerful. Images are powerless. Images are banal objects. Images are aesthetic artefacts. Images embody cultural concepts materially. Images create concepts. Images are bodies without organs. Images are photographic. Images are cinematic. Images are digital. Images are real. Images are reality. Images are mimetic. Images are amimetic. Images are currency. Images are worthless. Images want something from us. Images witness. Images haunt us. Images are fundamentally unknowable. Images are entelechial. Images travel. Images are boundless. Images are transmutable. Images are ephemeral. Images are excessive. Images are inadequate. Images are mute. Images are language. Images are beyond language. Images disturb us. Images hurt us. Images are destructive. Images are redemptive. Images are transcendental. Images are transparent. Images are opaque. Images are worth more than a thousand words. Images are primitive. Images are historical. Images are poetic. Images are synechdochic. Images are rhetorical. Images shape the imaginary. Images are neural. Images are neutral. Images are ubiquitous. Images are haptic. Images are spiritual. Images are matter. Images matter. IMAGE=GESTURE.
Nomadikon now invites paper proposals that relate to the overall conference topic and to one or more of the streams below. Abstracts should not exceed 400 words. Please include a short bio. Deadline for submitting abstracts: November 10, 2010. Nomadikon also intends to publish one or more anthologies of articles based on material from the conference.
As a critical and heuristic trope, the gestural galvanizes many of the most pertinent areas of inquiry in contemporary debates and scholarship in visual culture and related disciplines:
a) Ethics: Images and their values and affects.
b) Ecology: Iconoclastic gestures and spaces of conflict.
c) Experience: The human as acts of mediation/product of the gaze.
d) Epistemology: Archive, document, memory.
e) Esthetics: From visual essentialism to transesthetics and synesthesia.
As both a cultural phenomenon and a philosophical concept, the notion of gesture straddles several disciplines, such as anthropology, linguistics, performance, theater, film and visual studies. At once a codified and natural expression, the gestural is peculiarly and somewhat ambiguously situated between the realm of the discursive and the realm of the instinctual, between the culture-specific and the universal, and between the corporeal and the visual. As a mode of mediation the gestural also traverses the distinct, albeit interrelated spheres of the political, the aesthetic and the everyday. A space of visual articulation in which rhetoric and semiotics intersect, the gestural produces movements and energies of eloquence capable of generating ideas, perceptions and affect.
Within the context of the present event, we would like to suggest that gesture could also rewardingly be re-deployed as a metaphorical and figurative concept. As among others Hans Belting has shown, there is a rather intimate connection between bodies and images, and if bodies can convey gestures, maybe images can too. Thus, we would like to ask:
How may one speak not only of the gestures of the body but also of the gestures of the image? What constitutes gesturality in the image and, more broadly, what are the gestures of the aesthetic itself?
In W.J.T. Mitchell’s already canonical postulation, pictures must be considered animated beings with drives, demands and desires of their own. They are, however, also in a sense mute beings incapable of speaking the hegemonic vernacular of logocentric discourses. But while pictures cannot speak in the literal sense, perhaps they have a gestural language of their own?
The artwork and its complex gestures remains an under-explored theoretical topos in contemporary visual culture studies. In our turbulent mediasphere where images – as lenses bearing on their own circumstances – are constantly mobilized to enact symbolic forms of warfare and where they get entangled in all kinds of cultural conflicts and controversies, a turn to the gestural life of images seems to promise a particularly pertinent avenue of intellectual inquiry. In visual art, the gestural appears to be that which intervenes between form and content, materiality and meaning. But as a conceptual force it also impinges upon the very process of seeing itself, as Marie-José Mondzain has pointed out: ”The image is only sustained through a dissimilarity, in the space between the visible and the seeing subject. But is this space visible? If it were, it would no longer be a space. Thus, in the act of seeing, there is an invisible gesture that constitutes the space of seeing.”